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Poland v Greece – Match Preview

Captain Jakub Blaszczykowski admits it’s a dream come true for him and his Poland teammates as the co-hosts prepare to kick-off Euro 2012 against Greece in Warsaw on Friday.

Franciszek Smuda men are gearing up to tackle 2004 champions Greece in the opening Group A fixture of the tournament and, despite being the lowest ranked team in the finals, there is a belief that Poland can make the knockout stage.

It’s only the second time White Eagles have qualified for the competition in it’s 62-year history but with the draw handing them a negotiable group expectations have soared amongst supporters.

But Borussia Dortmund midfielder Blaszczykowski insists that the pressure will act as a stimulant for the Polish to go out and enjoy performing in their home nation and savour the moment.

“The whole country has great expectations and we are aware of it but it will only motivate us to win,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“These are things players wait their whole career for – to play in a tournament like this, in such a great stadium.

“This is a dream come true, the only thing we can do is realise those dreams and make them last.”

They’ll face a tough task against a Greece side that surprised the entire football fraternity after triumphing over host nation Portugal eight-years ago.

A run of just one defeat in 21 games under Fernando Santos during his two-year reign, including an undefeated qualifying campaign, means the Greeks will come into the tournament in high spirits and many will be predicting a routine win over the Polish in the National Stadium.

However captain Giorgos Karagounis has played down his countries chances of causing another upset and is adamant that they must avoid defeat in their opening game if they are to have any chance of making the quarter-finals.

The 35-year-old midfielder said: “If you cannot win then you must not lose because it is the first match.

“We know what we are capable of as a side and we will try and produce it on the pitch.

“Since there are so few games you cannot afford to make any mistakes.”

Injury News

Poland head coach Smuda is sweating on the fitness of Sochaux defender Damien Perquis as he continues his recovery from a fractured elbow.

Greece could be without two key players in the form of defender Vassilis Torosidis and Sotiris Ninis.

Torosidis has a knee injury and looks likely to miss out whilst Ninis struggles to over come a shoulder problem but has a chance of featuring.

Key Players

Roberto Lewandowski

The Borussia Dortmund striker heads into Euro 2012 off the back of a stunning campaign that saw him score 30 goals in 46 games and lift the Bundesliga title for the second year in succession. Poland know that if providing Lewandowski with the adequate service represents their best chance of making it through the group stage. With scouts from some of Europe’s elite sides likely to be in the crowd the 23-year-old will be keen to get off to a strong start and impress his potential suitors.

Giorgos Karagounis

With 115 caps to his name Karagounis is the most experienced member of the current Greece squad and remains key component in their midfield. He was part of the team that defied the odds in 2004 and will be hoping to use his knowledge to help the Greeks to victory in their opening game. The veteran skipper is the man that keeps the engine room neatly structured ensuring it operates with a faultless efficiency. And whilst the goals have dried up in recent years his blend flair and grit make him the ideal man to Hellenic side into the tournament.

Prediction: 1-2

Article title: Poland v Greece – Match Preview

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